28 feb. 2011

The Android apps economy (II): games as a service

The Android ecosystem is changing economic rules for game developers and publishers, as we explained on a previous post. Basically, what it is happening is that the biggest success is achieved by free apps and games, while monetization comes via ads (mostly AdMob), in a very similar way how mass media obtains its revenues. The more traffic and use, the more money. That is why Google is not very worried about new Android app stores already available or soon to come, as we explained last October. Apps as a new mass media.

Beside that, Android is also going to allow In-App-Purchases (IAP) very soon, as they announced some days ago. This is something very important because every report shows they are the key factor for revenues, as we stated on a previous post about it. We just have to wait and see which are the features Android provides and its revenue share model.

These two main sources of revenue (ads and IAPs) may only work if gamers get engaged with apps and games. So it is key for developers to provide not only good software but also to reach stickyness. Apps and games should be used and played again and again to obtain good economics. And that is why we talk about that apps (and games, our focus) should become a service, and will never be again a product.

Games as a service means players may receive from time to time extra features for their games that encourages them to play once more. In the past, while games were a product, when a player finished the last screen, the game ended and that was all. Now, players (ideally) may want to come back again and again to its favourite game because it offers them something new.

That is key for the two models:
  • Ad based. If you want your users coming again and again you may have to offer them something new from time to time. And, of course, they will come again only if the game has satisfied them in the past (the mere addition of new features is not a success guarantee). This new content has to be provided often, because something we have learned within the market is that users may get rid of their apps very quickly if they have finished them (and even when they have not). That is something that applies specially to games, because other apps may be kept on a bigger percentage.
  • In App Purchases. A smart movement would be to provide extra and new features via IAPs. This is the philosopher´s stone of the business, in our opinion. If developers may provide to its gamers with a title that is engaging, treating it not as a product but as a service, and are able to deploy a sustainable In App Purchasing model, they may be successful in economic terms.

We think Google is teaching developers via data obtained in every title update that this is the model they want to push: every time a developer updates its titles already published in the market, it receives a big flow of new users. That is because the app appears again in the "new" featured apps, but also it is a clear statement: the more developers update their apps, the more users they get for them.

Apps and games as a service. And IAPs as the summit of this model. We will go on working on this, and keep you informed. Stay tuned!

31 ene. 2011

Our first month in the Android Market. Emotions and numbers post

We released our first Android videogame, Vector Ace, last December 28th. And have enjoyed already one month of learning and happy understanding of the Market, the OS and the personal goal we set for ourselves, which was our main interest when we decided as a hobbyist team to develop, publish, distribute and communicate & market Android videogames.

We wanted to create original games, not replying other´s initiatives. That is why we decided the motto "Smart Weird Games" for the company. And that is why Vector Ace was created. It is a game that makes us remember our old school times, since it is an interactive recreation of the paper-and-pencil game we used to play together during boring classes. So we are very happy just with the release: only that it is indeed a big success for us. But we have found even more.

First of all, gamers´ critics and opinions. We knew from the very beginning that Vector Ace is a very strange, weird and even freaky game. In fact, we think it is opening a new genera. So we knew it was going to be difficult for gamers to properly understand it. And that has happened. We have suffered some bad critics by people who have not understood the game at all, and even have thought their time spent on it has been a loss. We knew that was going to happen, but the surprise has been other people´s opinions saying the game has been interesting for them, gifting us with good valuations. In fact, after 32 qualifications we have an average of 4.25 stars over 5. Taking into account those negative approaches we mentioned before, it is not bad at all! Thank you all!

We have even received very deep test and feedback by some smart gamers, who reviewed our game and provided us with very useful information and reported some small bugs or good and easy improvements we have been solving in the game updates. Thank you community for your support and feedback!

Beside that, the mentions we have achieved on the Internet, via games sites and blogs, have been impressive. We have been collecting them on this page of our site. Even in other languages different from English, the mother tongue of the game in this first versions of it. It is so nice when someone recommends your creation on a different language. Thank you Google Translate for letting us enjoy this!

And what about THE NUMBERS? We suppose many of you are waiting for them. But, before them, we wanted to say that our target was not (and it is not) gaining money or become rich, but enjoying the experience. Of course, we hoped (and still hope) to obtain some money with our games, but not as a primary goal. Remember we do this from a hobbyist perspective, since every member of the team has its full-time job.

So the numbers are these ones: we have obtained 3.100 downloads within the first month. Please do note the game is free and it has not ads to monetize it. Is this number good or bad? Since we had no expectations, it is just the number we achieved in the first month. And we are happy with it. But we do not want to stop here.

We have seen a very big number of downloads in the first days in the market, while after that, the game entered in a long tail where we gain an average of about 50 new installations per day. Of course, we have peaks when releasing updates of the game, and other small or big ones after some PR & communication actions. By the way, the most interesting and fruitful PR action was talking about our game from a very honest and fresh perspective in the reddit Android community.

This post could be a post mortem post, but it is not. We do not understand why some developers write "post mortem" texts about their apps, since we think this is a live environment, and a lot of things have to be tested, learned, achieved and enjoyed!

In fact, we have a lot of plans and projects we shall implement. But not only about new games, but also about this particular game, Vector Ace, which is just starting to live now. And we may explain them on this blog. Stay tuned!